A Travellerspoint blog

Our 8-day family vacation to South Andamans

A dreamy beach vacation 'Feb 2022

sunny 27 °C

Hello dear travelers,

We have been on many vacations but this one is close to my heart. We love beaches. Since the pandemic, all plans were stalled and I have been eyeing on this trip for almost 2 years; during which was good enough to collect relevant blogs, choose those activities that are suitable for us as a family, collect as much details possible.
Due to time limitations we did not expand the entire horizon of activities but limited to our own likes, so please excuse me for that.
I am happy to have visited this beautiful place and share my journey with you.
Andamans is a beautiful place rich in Indian history, great marine life , amazing aqua beaches and lots and lots to do;
I was just lucky as due to O-micron 3rd wave it was closed for tourism for nearly 45 days and re-opened on 8th Feb'2022. When we visited tourism was in full swing. There is not much night life here, you can make the best of your trip if you are a morning person.
This is purely a South Andaman trip; I do not have much details on Middle/North Andaman (but few of them lengthen their stay with Diglipur, Rangat and few other places)

Date of visit: 26th Feb -6th March
Ours was a 9-day trip including flight travel on the first and last day. Ensure your 1st and last day is in Port blair -just to accomodate any ferry cancellations.

[Direct Flight Blr to PB] ==-==2N PortBlair -3N Havelock island-2N Neil island -1N PortBlair.==== [Direct flight PB-Blr]
Season: We visited in Spring-early summer, temperature was bearable 28-29*C.
I read a lot of posts that suggested Dec-March as the best season, and summer is good for clear waters and spotting marine life.
After May there's unexpected rains which may lead to ferry cancellations etc. I would personally avoid the rainy season, bay of

Self booking tips:

  • Decide your tentative dates of travel, book flights and hotels months in advance -minimum 2 months advance to get good deals.
  • Watch out for the government website for Andaman tourism for Indian and foreign travelers, the restrictions keep changing often.

This has all the pre-liminary information that you need:
https://www.andamantourism.gov.in/

  • I personally liked Indigo, due to Covid they had given flexible reschedule option compared to other flights.

GoAir tickets are very cheap but you may lose a lot on cancellation.

  • Choose morning flights for onward journey- so that you can check-in according to your hotel timings and utilize rest of the day.
  • When we visited 48-hr RT-PCR mandate was there. Later only double vaccination certificate holds good.
  • For kids <12y they did an RAT on arrival in nearby camp (despite us carrying RTPCR (-ve report for our kid)
  • Indian travelers must carry their valid proof of residence Aadhar card/passport, vaccine certificate and ferry tickets -do take print out of all of them. There is through screening of baggage at Hadoo jetty point (Port Blair )

Web check in for flights can be done 1 day before travel. Please note on luggage terms before booking.

>>At least before 15 days of travel- check for regional updates if everything is open, make a few calls to agents /your resort and local contacts, confirm and then book the Ferry tickets.
>> IMPORTANT NOTICE: Book flights on weekends, currently there is some work going on at Veer Savarkar airport, Port Blair due to which flights are permitted only on Sat/Sun/Mon. This is from Feb-May 2022.

Booking for hotels-

Choose what type of accommodation best suits you & plan your approximate itinery for the stay(2*/3*/4*);
Based on that choose variety of options available in Port Blair/Havelock/Neil.
Andamans is quite expensive compared to many other beach destinations in India, in terms of hotels and eateries - you can check out for yourself.
There a lot of travel sites -Booking.com/ MakeMytrip.com -Agoda.com (not so great customer service) -which give you book now pay later options you could block with them,
or check the hotel/accomodation for direct booking deals. Look for hotels that give easy reschedule options.
Tripadvisor.in and many other tourist blogs help in deciding your itinery and details on other tours and bookings.
Also do not go blindly by the professional photos listed in travel websites, look for reviews in multiple sites and multiple photos before you choose your stay. You don't want to be disappointed after reaching the place. Especially if you're particular on ambience and cleanliness like me.

Where we stayed:
==================
Port Blair (2N)- Kokari Guest house 2* (Approx tariff 3000-4500 per night, Free breakfast included)
Pros: Closed to Hadoo jetty and many tourist points like museums and Cellular jail, sit out had amazing view and had good reviews. Breakfast was good. Owner was kind and best service.
Cons- I had booked classic triple room I was bit disappointed in the room, it was too cramped, sea view double room looked better and ventillated; And only the sit out balcony lounge had the sea view. Rooms are a bit cramped. And 3 floors no lift.
Book only if you have lot of sightseeing to do and would spend lesser time in room -do not book if you have Sr.citizens along with you.
If this is booked- check for any property in 'Foreshore road' -right next to us was 'Da Bay Inn' it will have the same view.
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Havelock island (3N)- Seashell resorts (4*) (Approx tariff 8k-15k depending on the category and season)-We stayed in Andaman cottage which was 10k per night (for 2 adults +1kid)
Pros: Finest in terms of class, luxury service offered. Excellent ambience, maintenance. Widest spread of breakfast buffet in Indian-urban tadka restaurant. Very close to most tourist places and jetty.
Amazing pool -adult pool, jacuzzi hot tub and kids pool. Best for honeymooners- they have spa and candle-light dinner by the beach.
Bonova cafe is really cool with live music in the evening and lip-smacking sizzlers.
Cons: Only landline numbers work. Most staff are very busy and mobile numbers won't work. They never refund full on cancellation -only reschedule option is there.
Backside beach is not accessible (Govind nagar beach is not so clean and can be maintained better.)
Poor wifi only at reception +cafe it works.
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Neil island (2N) -Sea Shell Neil 4*
(Approx tariff 6k-9k depending on season)- We stayed in Deluxe room which was 7k per night.
Pros: Same class service, cottages are more spacious than in Seashell havelock. Dugong restaurant is really nice, but buffet options are lesser.
Backyard there's a cozy swing and hammock where you can relax. Closer to jetty and most places.
Cons: Backyard Lakshmanpur beach view is good, but lot of littering around that can be well maintained.
NO POOL- if you want a pool to relax in the evenings -go for Seashell Samsara pricing is the same range and it is part of the same group of hotels.

Port Blair (1N) -WelcomITC, ITC chain of hotels 4* (Approx. tariff 7k-13k depending on season and category of rooms) -we got a good deal for deluxe room at 7500/-
I regretted for not booking this hotel for the entire period- room and bathroom is luxurious with a splendid beach view. The café is top notch and wide spread and sit out is soo nice at the height of palm trees.
Pool is lovely with the same beach view. Close to all main city tourist places.
Just incase this hotel gets sold out for your dates -check for other hotels in 'Marine hill road' ; Seashell port blair is right next to it.
Con- only that you may not have much autos/taxis running in that road- you may have to contact front desk for that.

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======Ferry booking===:===

Once you search 'Andaman ferry booking' you will find multiple sites offering ferry bookings.
'DO NOT BOOK with any site' but only the directly booking for private ferries:
Makruzz- Makruzz official website - It was the best ferry -there are 3 classes. It is new and neat ambience inside, closed AC seating.
Premium/Luxury/Royal all are equally comfortable. You get to choose your sites. Tickets ~1500/- per head.
We did twice Port Blair -Havelock, Havelock -Neil.
Green Ocean- Neil to Port Blair.
Green ocean official website - it is less luxurious compared to Makruzz but larger in size.(~1400/- per head)
A lot of people like this due to the open deck where you can stand and click pics.
Avoid booking seats near the door aisle, people just go and come in many times.
Worst case your ferry cancels due to bad weather -they will call you (so ensure you give a working mobile number -Airtel /Jio/Bsnl)
You can check 'auto walas' or cab drivers for government ferry tickets (I do not have much details on this)
Tip to book Ferry: Note your current hotel check out, break fast timing +next hotel check-in timing; Check how far is the jetty from your hotel by car. Mostly 9:30-11:30 am ferries are in max demand. I chose around this time mostly.
And you need to reach the jetty 1 hour before the ferry departure, so plan and book accordingly.

Expenses:
============
Tip is to read a lot of travel blogs and tour operators -if you want package check for someone who has customizable option to your needs;
I enjoy planning and self-organizing it gives utmost satisfaction after doing some research in exploring the best at new places.
Wrong question if you ask budget to me- it was out of budget in many ways ;) but ideally with an 8yr old kid expenses are like 3 adults, with about 60k per person.
(I know there are many cost saving packages and YouTube videos that teach you how you can plan a trip <80k for 2 adults etc)
Note the following points and plan your estimates:
Flights -to and fro (Best to choose direct flights if available, saves time and energy)
>Hotels
>Food
>Ferries
>Activities (Boat rides, Scuba diving, Snorkeling, Sea walk, Parasailing, Jet ski, Glass bottom rides etc)
>Scooty on rent/Cabs/autos
>Shopping (For the trip , at the trip :) )
Although there's ATM/Google Pay at most places keep minimum 10-15k cash in hand, especially for the cabs, island hops.

Transfers
=========
At Port Blair:
Airport taxi is the cheapest; there are lot of local taxis available at entrance. They don't cheat and they have fixed rates for certain points. Check on distance to your hotel and quote price if you find it too demanding.
For local sight-seeing auto was an easy option at all places. For longer distances and elders might wanna choose cabs.
If you do a 9day tour -and Baratang island is on your list keep 1 day aside for that -cab charges approx 4-5k for that day trip. Beauty is mangroves, limestone caves, you can see the Jarwa tribes -but strictly no photography (WE skipped that as it may be too strenuous for us.)
1/2 day tour to Chidiya tapu +Munda pahad beach , pick and drop from your hotel costs about 1300-1500/-

At Havelock island:
Jetty- hotel transfer we took cab as luggage was more.
We rented a bike for the 3 days we stayed as beaches are not too far and it was the easiest mode of commute. Rental 500/- per day (petrol we need to refill per day)

At Neil island:
Jetty to hotel transfer- Cab
Share auto/cab is available all over- ask your resort for one.
We took bike for 1 day to explore nearby beaches, it is a small island. Bikes are really less in Neil, inform your hotel prior incase you want bike rental at Neil on which dates.

What to do:
===========
Port Blair :
Day1
: Cellular Jail - visiting hours inside cellular jail closes by 4pm so right after arrival, check in your hotel grab some food and head to cellular jail to tour inside.
Light and sound show tickets can be booked online on the government site -pls do it 4 hours before ,online. Seats fill in fast and avoid long Q at counter booking. only 7:30 pm one is in English, other 2 are in Hindi.
Timings are :5:30 /6:30/7:30pm. We went for 6:30pm show, it was perfect. They make you wait in Veer Savarkar park just opposite and the show briefs you on the turmoil of Indian freedom fighters during the British reign.
(We were not aware of the visit hours closing at 4pm as we checked in only at 3pm so only did show at 6:30 pm, but glad we booked tickets online)

If you are a person who loves museums - there are 3 museums; We chose Samudrika marine museum pertaining to kid's interest -it was nice, small aquarium as well. Closes by 5pm.
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[ Cellular Jail and Samudrika Marine museum ]

Day2: Head to Rajiv Gandhi sports complex, Aberdeen Jetty where there is a nice kids park -decide if you want to do a 1/2 tour to Ross islands (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose -NSCB islands) or double trip (Ross +North Bay)
We had booked only for Ross islands ~3 hours (There is no food stalls - carry your own -pls do not litter). There is free buggy ride inside to tour that place -you can spot lots of deers and peacocks)
We were not planning to do any activities in port Blair, we had other plans for evening- so skipped north bay islands. You get to do semi submarine /speed glass bottom/parasailing/jet ski there.
Jolly buoy islands was closed.
After Ross island we head to Corbyn Cove's beach by 4:30pm. Note sunset happens by 5:15pm in most beaches so go early. And don't be surprised by the crowd, it is mostly crowded.
After sunset take a stroll along Marina Park, flag point area it is well lit by colorful lights and the promenade is lovely.

[ROSS ISLAND, MARINA PARK, FLAG POINT , CORBYN COVE'S BEACH ]
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I also badly wanted to do night Kayaking- but due to time constraints I missed it.
Check out Kayak Walla on Facebook-Tanaz tours, Shiraz they are the best.

Day 3 PB-Havelock. (3 days are ideal if you want a relaxed no rush activity and experience)
Day3: Check in at hotel, freshen up.
Head to Radhanagar beach for sunset -you can easily spend 2-3 hrs here and get wet and take a dip. It has the finest sands and best beaches in Asia for cleanliness.
Sunset happens at 5:15pm, after 5pm guards do not let you stand on shore due to tidal changes. There's changing room and shower options there.
[Radhanagar beach, Kalapathar beach]
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Day 4: Have a good breakfast, head to Havelock jetty point and purchase tickets for Elephant beach ~30 min speed boat drive.
Boat tickets are ~1000/- per head, which includes free snorkeling. You must try. It is such a clean beach and few yards from shore , amazing corals. Kids >8years are permitted for snorkeling, guide takes you on float.
They give an entire 3 hour to stay on that beach. There's locker and changing facility there.
There is also an alternate path for trekkers to reach Elephant beach -pls check with locals.
Sea walk happens in batches and in a specific area. It is very easy to do compared to scuba, as you breathe easy with an oxygen helmet and no water around your face- just upto neck level.
Sea walk duration is about 20mins. Get in slowly, let your ears adjust to water pressure.
It costs 7500/- for 2 adults. Must try for sure, so delightful experience. Also certain list of medical conditions are not allowed. Check 'Sea Wonders' ,they are the only sea walk operators for more details.
Kids are not allowed due to ear membrane pressure >16yrs can attempt this.

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Take a break and visit some beaches after lunch or just relax in your resort catch some good night's sleep. (Govindnagar beaches had lot of dead corals and you cannot dip feet in them, can visit like a view point sake; After visiting Radhanagar you may not feel its worth it)
if you plan on Scuba the next day- talk to the operator and fix a later slot. Scuba diving is the best at Havelock do not miss it at any cost.
SeaShell offers diving with ScubaLov. I did with SeaHawks scuba -experience was awesome.

Day 5: Get up at 4am, and head for Sunrise at Kalapathar beach. Sunrise happens from 4:45-5:30 you can enjoy colours of the changing horizons.
After 7am head back to the room have a light breakfast.
Ensure your scuba slot is pre-booked and have a 2 hour gap after food. I chose 9:30am slot.
I was initially worried learning to breathe with the cylinder and they train you on shore for 45 mins. You can check out videos on YouTube. Then the boat takes you to a farther point where you boat dive and slowly will be taken inside to enjoy the marine life.
Boat dive costs you 5,500/- including training, scuba outfit on rent, boat ride, pics videos -entire activity is about 3hrs, underwater for about 40 mins. You might feel light ear pressure initially until your body sets in, it kind of increases close to the ocean floor. Boat dive is recommended compared to shore dive as they take you to good marine spots.
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Note: I am a non-swimmer and have the same fear of water, but it is not all that difficult if you are interested. But incase you are still nervous- I'd recommend trying snorkeling first, experience Sea walk -it is super easy compared to Scuba. Avoid scuba if you underwent recent ear surgery.
You will feel tired after scuba, enjoy and do nothing in the evening. We visited Radhanagar beach again, got fully drenched and enjoyed once more. Kid was happily building sand castles.

Day 6: HL to Neil island (People do it in 1 day, but we kept 2 days to roam a bit relaxed)
Check in, have lunch and set out by 3pm to Lakshmanpur beach 2- for Natural bridge formation.
There's lot of walking to be done here, wear your sports shoes cos kids really get scared seeing crabs running into their hideouts in the rocks.
Sunset here is really beautiful.

Day 7: Bharatpur beach, Neil -Carry enough change clothes, snacks.
It is one of the finest beaches at Neil. We nearly spent 10am-1pm here.
Glass bottom ride is lovely -it is well known here, costs about 800/- per head. Capture it with your eyes, through camera it looks very normal.
The water here is shallow and lovely beach to take a dip. By mid-day it gets really low tide so do the activities first.
Other activities also happen here, you can enquire.
Changing rooms and lockers available here.
The same souvenirs available in Port Blair /Havelock -sea shells/pearls/showpieces/jewellery are available here so check it out.

Grab a quick lunch and head to Lakshmanpur Sunset beach -1 (please reach there before 4:30pm) We reached by 5:15 and it was almost gone and dark.
(Note long walk from cab point to sunset point) bikes can go farther closer to the beach , check with locals. Collectibles and fruit stalls available here.
NEIL ISLAND
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Lakshmanpur beach and natural bridge
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Day 8. Early morning sunrise at Sitapur beach (4:30am-6am)
Relax in resort for a bit, have a good breakfast and check out.
Catch the ferry to Port Blair.

Check-in to Port Blair hotel. We managed with light snacks and had pre-booked cab for 1/2 day tour for Chidiya Tapu at 3pm.
Enjoy the ride through the forest area, carry your binoculars you may be lucky to spot some birds in tall trees.
Go to MundaPahad beach click some good pictures ~330-415pm. At 4:30pm sharp reach Chidiya tapu beach and enjoy the beauty of sunset. Shallow waters. Nothing else to do.
There is also a trek path to ChidiyaTapu for that you may need to start from your hotel by 2:15pm (which we did not do, inorder to save time)
[ Mundapahad +Chidiya Tapu beach ]

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Day 9- Last day , you won't feel like leaving this place.
Relax at the pool, Enjoyed the view from ITC hotel and had a wonderful breakfast.
Do your web check in 1 day prior.
Reach airport ~2hrs before departure. Always book an afternoon flight so that you have some peaceful check out process and do not have to rush.

Network
=======
Airtel/Jio/BSNL - in Port Blair.
Vodafone -super weak, you can manage with Wi-Fi.

Islands- Airtel has poor signal- but can manage for payments/urgent calls. BSNL is good.

Where to eat (Vegetarian)!
=========================
As much as I am picky on my stay, I am choosy on eats.
I had shortlisted some restaurants (some offered really good food, despite the tiny outlets they had)
We are vegetarians and my list is limited to my choices and good food gives you energy to roam extra hours:

Port Blair:
Icy Spicy- Good North indian restaurant; Adjacent snack outlet has good sweets n snacks.
Kattabomman -quick eve bites, south Indian (Idly, Dosa)
Annapurna - south indian (bit hyped, but offers variety and quite popular)
Metro Cafe -Aberdeen bazar - yummy pizza, sandwich, lip smacking desserts!
Others on list did not try- Corbyn's delight (Near Corbyn Cove beach), Anju Coco (continental), Amaya Sea shell (classy date), Vegan Creek.

Havelock:
Pls stay at 1 night in Seashell-enjoy the breakfast buffet spread at Urban Tadka, it was really the best variety I have seen. Ala carte tho tasty was super slow in service.
Bonova Cafe - Live music 6:30pm onwards -continental (sizzlers must try!)
Rajasthani dhaba (just opp sea shell) - thali not so great. Lassi was awesome.
Salt Life Cafe -Pizza was good, evening lit ambience.
Lot of Cafe's in Kalapathar stretch looked good & had good reviews-Anju Coco, Garden Cafe, Fat Martin Cafe, Something different (was not on main road)
Shakhahari- Veg lunch
Just at jetty point -Dakshin (was shutdown) -we went to another one -Big Bite restaurant (super tasty north indian food)

Neil island:

Dugong SeaShell -lovely ambience, we had north-Indian there which was very good.
Shakhahaari pure veg - Don't go by their ambience, parathas were too good -majority lady staff.
Others on list but did not try- OrganiKhaa (Ramnagar), Garden View (Sitapur), Full Moon Cafe.

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  • Sometimes you may feel really tired or excited to go to the next place with a quick bite;
  • Carry enough snacks with you, biscuits, protein bars, juices, instant tea, Smoothie mixes for something light for the dinner when you want to crash early.
  • We picked up some fruits and juices in Aberdeen bazar, Port Blair.
  • Everywhere you will find tender coconut stalls -and it is really refreshing in mild humidity.

This is almost like my research project and first travel blog.
Please note that weather keeps changing and coastal regions are humid - wear appropriate breezy clothes.
It gets really hotter in mid day -and you will find a rush of humidity in the jetty points and at Neil island -Lakshmanpur beach 2 where there's natural bridge etc.
I have tried to fill in my experiences and added as much information for you to plan your travel to Andaman islands!
I tried Snorkeling, Sea walk ,Scuba diving- all 3 are brilliant as it happens in different locations and worth every bit of it.
Without which it is just beach hop trip.

Take care , happy tanning & travelling and build experiences for a lifetime~

Posted by dkfoodntravel 08:03 Archived in India Tagged beaches boats Comments (0)

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